When School of Social Work student Kaitlyn Ewan came to Colorado State University, she faced something more ominous than the typical new-student challenges of time management, debt, and homesickness. Kaitlyn had a brain tumor.
The brain tumor was the primary reason Ewan initially chose a pre-med track as a Psychology major, so she could become a brain surgeon. Born and raised in Fort Collins, she and her two sisters were all developing careers in health and human services professions.
“My sophomore year, when I was 19, I had brain surgery to remove it, and it went really badly,” said Ewan. “I decided I wanted to help people after surgery, and I felt social work was a good way to do that, so I dropped pre-med, kept the Psychology major, and added Social Work as a second major.”
Scholarship recognizes academics, service, and leadership
Ewan recovered her health, and her decision to shift focus in her education at CSU has paid off. Now a senior, she has been selected to receive funding for her current internship at Larimer County Human Services through the Colorado Child Welfare Stipend Program; she expects a full-time job offer after graduation; and she is now the first place winner of the Phi Alpha Patty Gibbs Wahlberg BSW Scholarship.
The Wahlberg Scholarship is presented through the Phi Alpha Honor Society for Social Work. Ewan’s application was chosen by various judges across the United States. She was awarded $3,000, a plaque, and an all-expense paid trip to present at the Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors conference in Jacksonville, Florida, on March 14-17, 2019.
Phi Alpha society offers opportunities for social work students
The CSU chapter of Phi Alpha, which is led by Associate Professor Paula Yuma, looked like a great opportunity to Ewan as a student. The group provides a closer bond among students and promotes humanitarian goals and ideas, in addition to fostering high standards of education for social workers.
“I went to the introduction and then Paula said afterwards, ‘there’s a scholarship and I think you should apply for it.’ She was my professor for SOWK 233. I appreciate her teaching style and loved that class. She would always write so many comments on my papers.”
Ewan also learned about the Grand Challenges for Social Work through her new major, and identified the challenge to “close the health gap” as an area of focus for her planned career in hospital social work.
Now that she has found a career path in social work, Ewan has no plans for slowing down. She has been accepted into CSU’s Master of Social Work program, and plans to begin graduate-level social work classes following graduation in May. “I’ll start right away in advanced standing,” said Ewan. “I’m really looking forward to that.”